Showing posts from August, 2010

Vector Theory #28: Australian Freeforms

FUBAR is my exercise in designing a game according to the principles of Vector Theory. Where-in players get the chance to manipulate the effectiveness of their characters, or manipulate the direction of the story. They must choose between these options when proving successful in their die rolls. Players also choose how well their character is able to resist negative effects imposed upon their characters, or choose to buffer the direction changes in the story (they are rarely able to do both). I'm not sure completely how successful the game is in that regard, but it has gotten me thinking about a lot of other games and gaming styles. The American indie roleplaying community (with links to the English and the Norse) has recently had a fascination with the style of play known in Australia as "Freeforming"'s an annoying name because freeform means completely different things in the roleplaying communities from other parts of the world. I'll try to ensure I refer

Encoding Otherkind

I’ve blogged about Otherkind dice a few times. Once describingthem as a game mechanism of the week, once describing how I’ve incorporated them into other projects (such as FUBAR), I’ve described them with respect to Vector Theory. But there is really a lot more complexity in them than there first appears. Not so much the complexity of rolling three dice then allocating them to three categories, but the ideas of rolling extra dice to get a better chance of placing a single high die in a “success” category, while making extra sacrifices with extra dice placed in another category. There’s a lot of intuition happening here, and while it plays out simply and elegantly with a focus toward telling a good story, it’s a nightmare to program into a computer game. My current interpretation of Otherkind Dice “FUBAR” can be translated into a 2 page document wityh details on character generation and some GMing notes thrown in for good measure. But here is a link to a pdf flowchart I’v

Brief Hiatus

I'm just temporarily logging in while I'm having lunch somewhere. I've lost my internet connection at home, and it's probably going to be pretty erratic over the next few weeks. Between paying more important bills (such as food and electricity), and then moving house at some random time over the next couple of weeks, I can't be sure when I'll get the chance to post anything. I might have to make use of the free wi-fi internet at coffee shops or McDonald's fast food restaurants if the withdrawal symptoms get too bad. I'll still be plugging away at various projects, and hopefully when things settle down, there will be some great new things to reveal to the world.


I've just added Naked FUBAR to my site. A microlite version of FUBAR on two sides of an A4 page. I'll be generating a better pdf for it shortly as I seem to have lost my good pdf conversion tool with the decent compression rate. Here's the link.

Major College Project

I've gone back to study for this semester. I'm upgrading a qualification in Web Design and I'm adding a qualification in Multimedia. All in the hopes that: A) I might become more employable... or B) My own business ventures will rely less on the fickleness of third parties. As a result I'll have a couple of major projects for the semester. One of which will be a website driven by a database, andother of which will be an interactive flash project. So I'm wondering about the options of combining these two projects into a single entity...a flash driven web-browser game. I know that there are already plenty of these around, but on the whole most of them aren't that great. I'm thinking that there might be a chance to get some fun interactive storytelling happening in a game like this, to really push the envelop beyond a simple point and click adventure. In mush the same way that storygames are pushing the envelop with roleplaying. Let's look at some

Microlite Storyteller

Back to another Microlite. This one I don't have as high praise for. Maybe Microlite d20 falls into some of the same traps, but this one does it more blatantly. Maybe it's just my critical eye for game mechanisms that has lead me to the issues I have with this incarnation of the Microlite genre. The Author's original post about it is here on ENWorld , while Stargazer's World mentions it here . The author readily admits that the game is a very, very, VERY alpha document; but it's been around for a while and it's seen a few comments here and there. If the author has done anything new to it, I'd love to see it. I'll also hasten to comment that I make these reviews and remarks if I think there is a certain potential in an idea. I'm an old fan of the old World of darkness, I had the old quickstart booklet (I think it might even be in my book boxes which are packed for an impending house move). So there is a germ of coolness in this game concept, but

Seven Deadly Sins of Game Design

Over on RPGnet there has been a great discussion on game design from a meta perspective . It started as a list of things that a prospective indie/small-press game designer should avoid if they want to write a passable game. Like most threads, the first few ideas were solid; then later ideas started to waver between sheer brilliance and rubbish. But one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Like many threads, it also degenerates into trash talk for a while before getting focused again. I made the comment: “And that's why a listing like this one is really good. Once you know where the lines are drawn in the sand, that's when you know where to cross them and the effects to worry about when you do cross them. A lot of inexperienced designers don’t know the traps and they don’t understand why their games are falling into them. Occasionally they'll hit upon a stroke of genius, but more often than not the resultant output will be utter crap.” So, for posterity, h


Looks like I've got to stop editorializing and start doing some actual research before making blog posts....before I really start embarrassing myself. Especially now that I'm actually developing a readership. As I start to embark on a review and analysis of Microlite20, I have the overwhelming feeling that my review will end up longer than the game itself. Is this good or bad? I can look at a lot of the existing reviews and comments about Microlite 20... a decent history on Retroroleplaying this actual play report and responses these ideas on Polyhedral Dreams these references on RPG Bloggers or this interview on Stargazer's Blog Between these and the dozens of other comments scattered across the web, it's great to see a little project that really seems to have hit home with a wide spectrum of gamers. Old school renaissance gamers have taken it as a symbol of the way things used to be before they got all complicated. Story Gamers have praised its ideals of mini

Microlite Games

I've just started looking at the Microlite concept again. There's some interesting ideas tied up in that school of thought, and it almost links in with the single page games that I've toyed with over the past couple of years. The way I understand it, Greywulf (AKA Seth Drebitko) started the whole thing with Microlite d20 , a rebellion against what was happening to D&D. Others have started to take their own favourite game systems and have stripped away the superfluous crap to give some really tight games. Do the games benefit from this? I'm not sure. They certainly give control back to the GM and player, rather than absorbing all the responsibility through copious pages of rulebooks. But they leave a lot of work for the participants. A minimum of fluff/colour/flavour-text means that players don't argue over what it says on a certain page, instead they have the chance to argue about different interpretations at a much wider and more fundamental level. On the

Middle Management

Desperately trying to get out of the depressive spiral, I've been looking for sources of inspiration. Cthulhu probably isn't the best place to look for a way to restore a bit of sanity, especially when I'm already caught up in patterns of shadowy conspiracies, futility and general self-doubt. Hang on....How does Cthulhu link to middle management? WTF? I'm rhetorically glad you asked. I had a crazy idea for a game a few months ago, and my recent activities have reminded me of it. The game has a working title of "Middle Management", it's about spiritual beings caught working for impossibly powerful malevolent forces (the senior management....AKA the elder gods), they are forced to enact the secretive conspiracies of the world through their low ranking peons. The players are free to roam between the physical realm and the great abyss beyond time and space. Here's the basic working notes. Middle Management In which the players take on the roles o